Meet Kenny Robinson. Current safety for the XFL’s St. Louis Battlehawks. Former University of West Virginia standout. Possible trailblazer. Robinson shouldn’t be in the XFL right now. He should still be at West Virginia if it wasn’t for an academic issue but none the less should be sitting out as a transfer at another school. After all a 77 tackle, four-interception season in a power five conference he would’ve had options. Yet he chose an unknown one.
According to a St., Louis Post-Dispatch article by Ben Frederickson Robinson said disagreement with West Virginia about an unpaid bill kept him from securing his transcripts. That’s when his trainer brought up the idea of the XFL.
See the XFL brings up an intriguing option. It’s looser draft pool restrictions and one-year contracts offer up a perfect opportunity. Ball out against former NFL players in a pro setting around pro coaches in pro schemes and declare for the draft. Not to mention getting paid while doing it. Colleges will boast about providing a world-class education but put little in the pockets of players. Players like Robinson whose mom is battling cancer. The $55,000 dollar salary of the XFL, while not a lot, is to somebody in Robinson’s situation.
The early results are showing Robinson’s gamble is paying off. He just gained eligibility for this year’s NFL draft. At 6’2 200-pounds he has the frame teams want. His play on the field has boosted his stock even more. People have taken notice. More importantly, so have other college football players. In the same article by Frederickson Robinson noted how he receives texts and calls from college players who are intrigued.
“A lot of guys hit me up,” Robinson said. “They want to know how everything is handled, how I got into this situation, little things like that. Guys are asking me questions about it. If I do what I’m supposed to do it’s going to start happening more frequently.”
Robinson’s quote is telling. However, it’s his last sentence that should have people’s attention most import of all the NCAA.
“If I do what I’m supposed to do it’s going to start happening more frequently.”
Does this mean guys like Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields will suddenly jump ship to the XFL? No. But what does it mean for upperclassmen in the transfer portal especially graduate transfers? If you read my previous article regarding the NCAA transfer rule (if you haven’t I encourage you to do so) I used current CFL quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. as an example. I will use him again. Adams transferred from FCS Eastern Washington to PAC 12 power Oregon in order to help position himself for the NFL. If the XFL was around then I wonder if he’d make the same decision. I would like to think that if I was in his shoes I’d veer course. With a degree in hand and an opportunity to play in a pro league with pro coaches for a year while getting paid would be too much to pass up.
If Robinson is drafted he not only would be the first XFL player drafted into the NFL but he might’ve laid the blueprint. If the XFL in the future takes steps to improve salary and contract length but still offers the flexibility of jumping to the NFL it would become more and more of a tantalizing option. Sure if the NCAA lets players make money off their name, image and likeness (NIL) that might be their counter and a valid one. But here’s the thing.
Why not jump to the XFL and do both?